Learning the Metric System

A difference in measurement, that’s all. Kilometers instead of miles. Celsius instead of Fahrenheit. Canadians and Newfoundlanders use the metric system in their traffic signs, national park hiking maps, and weather. It took me two days to realize that we weren’t supposed to drive 80 “miles” per hour on that mountainous road in Newfoundland dragging a trailer behind. It was kilometers–about 50 miles per hour…but I still didn’t like it. It was too fast for an unfamiliar, curvy, cliff-lined roadway. I was getting too close a glimpse of the guardrail and the cliff ledge for my liking.

Now we’ve started the children hiking through forests and up and down mountains at a tender young age, the youngest, twins, were four. Just a mile or two, many breaks and sights to see. They were seasoned hikers by the time we came to Newfoundland. But they couldn’t get over a simple word: kilometers. The children were convinced. Kilometers were twice as long as miles, especially on raw, rugged trails up ragged mountains to view the glorious Atlantic and the Gulf of St. Lawrence or along planked trails over bogs. I tried to explain that kilometers were shorter than miles, but they kept focusing on the number.

“Five kilometers!” They shouted. “Mom! Are you nuts!”

“It’s only about three miles round trip across a flat bog.” I tried to explain. “Besides, we get to the fjords, don’t we?”

The thing was that they couldn’t envision a fjord. However, when they saw one, a hush fell over the children. It was the first time they were quiet the entire trip. That’s what God’s beauty does to people.

When hiking with children especially, make sure you know the type of terrain and the round trip or full length of a hike before starting. You can find this information on trail maps or at visitor centers in the parks where you hike. Hikes are usually rated strenuous, moderate, or easy. Double the suggested time given for a hike with children. This information will help you to decide if the children are up to the challenge.

Oh, and there is a distinct difference between ability and desire with children. As my children got older, I noticed that they would grumble for about the first quarter mile and then become so absorbed in their surroundings that they begin to pepper me with questions and “Oh, look Moms.”

2 thoughts on “Learning the Metric System”

  1. It does take some getting used to, especially for children and nervous mothers. However, the scenery in Canada makes the confusion well worth it.

    What part of Canada did you visit?

    Thank you so much, Michelle, for reading my blog post.


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